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Mazda Protegé



  • I hate to be the one to say it, but Mazda should have kept the 1.8L engine in the Protege rather than the 2.0L that was introduced in the 2001 model year. It would have been preferable to see Mazda work on increasing the HP and torque on the existing 1.8 than replace it in the Protege altogether. After all, this is not unheard of when you take into account the HP and Torque on the 1.8L in the Miata and also the J-spec.

    My wife and I have a 2000 5spd, Protege LX (ES in Canada for that year) with the 1.8L and about 38,000km on it to date. She mainly drives the Protege and I drive my car. Sometimes we share....sometimes...
    I have always loved Mazda's, with a few noted exceptions, and have extensively test driven the 2.0L engine in the sedans as well as the Protege 5. The old 1.8L is a very smooth, free-revving engine that encourages you to push it hard. More typical of a Honda engine really. There is also an extra torque push over 4000rpm all the way to 6000rpm. The 2.0L is a little quieter and lacks the growly snarl of the 1.8L. The 2.0L torque in the low band is better, but this engine simply does not like to rev like the 1.8. Even with the greater advertised HP and torque numbers, it does not feel as peppy and certainly sounds out of breath at about 4500RPM.
    A good friend of mine has the 2002 5spd, Pro5 with the 2.0L. We have raced agianst each other quite a number of times. At start he is routinely ahead and then once the engines rev up the RPM band, i typically and quite convincingly pull well ahead as his car looses pulling power. I know a number of factors can acocunt for this, the extra weight of the Pro5, shifting skills et, all.... However, we have traded places in each other's cars too and I cannot beat my sedan if he is driving the Pro5. We are convinced the 1.8L is in fact the faster and simply more refined of the engines...... sorry for the long post.
  • newcar31newcar31 Posts: 3,711
    It's all what your preference is. I like relaxed around town cruising. I've had the high rpm screamer car before and now I really appreciate the low rpm torque. The 2.0L is tuned to produce more low rpm torque. It's torque peak is before it's horsepower peak, unlike ALL honda engines except for the new CRV's. This is why it seems to run out of power at 4000 rpms. In realitly, it produces it's power right away, instead of later. You can't just look at raw numbers when talking about an engine, you also have to look at the engine's usable powerband. This is where the 2.0L shines IMO. Even though it has 40 less hp than my old integra, it FEELS peppier around town because the power that it does have is easily accesible.
  • Quick thoughts on this topic.

    I used to own a Civic SiR. Great car, great shifter (simply the best), great handling, great accelaration, simply great.

    All this said, even my SiR didn't have the same cornering ability of the Protege ES. Taking corners hard the tires would complain and the back end felt a little unstable. And this is before Honda cutbacks that changed their sporty double wishboine suspension to the MacPherson layout. Now, you might say the tires weren't up to snuff, but alas, I had 16" Poortenza's on my SiR for summer driving. Hydroplaning risk and all. Yes, they are indeed horrible wet weather tires....... The new Honda's have an inferior suspension tuning and are now adjusted more like a Toyota. They have really removed the "sporty" and communicative feel of the Civics. They are now too quiet, too soft and the driver is far more insulated to the road.

    The Protege is definately close to being sport tuned suspension wise and the tires just help add to this effect. Take a corner hard, just try and make the tires squeal. It is almost next to impossible unless you have a clear death wish. This is a clear indication that the suspension and tires on the Protege are well within toleration limits. Tire squeal is a direct result of car's inertia exceeding the limits of its suspension and tire surface contact and holding traction.

    Sorry, the current Pro's are most definately a far superior handling vehicle to the current Civic's. The older Civic's with the wishbone suspension were almost close, but still did not handle as well. The Pro really is an exceptional car in the handling category and Mazda itself has a history in the particular endeavour.

  • the_big_hthe_big_h Posts: 1,583
    I thought a flame war was about to start, good job keeping it civilized everyone.

    ok now my 2 cents. The 1.8T is an execllent engine, I wish the Protege has a turbo too (it's coming though!). I rode in my cousin's A4 once, lots of power whenever he needs it. The VTEC on the Honda engine doesn't kick in until 6000 rpm I believe, anytime before that it basically is the same as a non-VTEC LX engine power-wise, i.e. a dog. When I test drove the EX, I didn't even have a chance to rev it up to VTEC territory to see what all the fuss is all about. I tested it in city street driving condition, where there's almost no chance to rev it up like that in most situations. For us city/suburb dwellers, why pay for a technology that you don't use anyway?

    The biggest upside (also its biggest downside) of the Protege engine is the abundance of low-end torque when compared to the Honda VTEC engine. That's one of the reasons I felt it was a lot more fun than the Civic because the power is readily available right off the bat, much more accessible than the high-rpm VTEC. Of course, low-end torque comes at the cost of high-end power, but the truth is unless you're racing (not on public road of course), for most driving situations all that high-rpm power usually go unused.

    Salesperson didn't let me toss the Civic around a corner, so can't compare handling :D
  • Yes, of course, it is indeed all about driving preferences. I happen to like high strung rev happy engines. My car, and sometimes the wife's.... is a WRX and the turbo is fun when you hit about 3,500rpm.

    Anyway, the reason i prefer the Mazda 1.8L is that it still provides more than adequate low end torque as well. Yes, it is slightly less than the 2.0L now standard now, but not significantly. The powerband is simply more useable throughout on the 1.8L. Over 3000rpm, not high for a small displacement DOHC cam engine, you get the first surge of power. Then at 4000rpm the 1.8 valves are fully open and the engine just pulls you forward all the way to 6,000rpm.

    The 2.0L in the current Protege's still gives you that surge at about 3,500rpm and then is dead and drowing for air by around 4,500rpm.

    I'd rather have the edequate low end grunt with the option of more power than i would with the 2.0L slightly better low end and nothing left to give when you need to push it hard. The old Subie Impreza RS with around 165HP and 150torque used to be like this too. All the power was down low, but it was dead in the higher band. The turbo on the WRX corrects this.

    Also, i know the 2.0L in the Protege is not the Ford Zetec 2.0L in the Focus, but these engines sound and react almost identical. Drive the Zx3 and then the Pro5 back to back and you will see what i mean..... I hate the fact Ford is involved with Mazda and they are changing the Pro platform....makes me sad.
  • newcar: The Protege's engine produces 3 more HP than the Civic. Granted it has more torque but they seem to have sacrificed any high-end power to get those numbers. The Civic on the other hand has 127HP and admittedly lower torque but it's still faster and gets better gas mileage. And yes, I did say that the Civic's engine performs better because it does.

    No torque isn't tiring around town. Not to me at least. Also, the Civic has i-VTEC now which is different from the Vtec on your Integra. It allows you to use more of the torque throughout the rev-range. It seems that you would need the most power on the highway when you might want to drive higher speeds or might need to pass someone. The Protege already runs at 4000RPM on the highway .. coincidentally that's also the point where it seems to run out of power. The Civic on the other hand will pull strongly all the way to redline.

    boggse: The Civic does have an interference engine. But all you have to do to avoid this is change the timing belt at 90-100,000 miles. $400 for that after that many miles is hardly anything to balk about. Also, what makes you think Hondas have to have their valves checked every 5000 miles. I had a 99 Accord with almost 40,000 and I think maybe I had the valves checked at the 30,000 mile service, in my 01 V6 I never had them done in the 14,000 miles I had the car and we've had our 93 Civic for 15,000 miles now and never had them checked. I think that it's recommended at every major service interval but definitely not every 5000 miles. I paid $250 for the 30,000 mile service on my Accord .. hardly outrageous.

    As far as the insurance 01 Protege costs more to insure than my 01 Accord V6 Coupe did. Never understood that one.

    dinu: I think that the Civic and the Protege would be equal if nothing else. I don't see any reason why the Civic would be any higher. VW is another story.

    gandalf: I feel your friend's pain. My boyfriend consistently kick my [non-permissible content removed] with his 93 Civic EX 5-speed. I'm also with you when you say Mazda should have tweaked the 1.8 instead of putting this heavier 2.0L in it.
  • boggseboggse Posts: 1,048
    What I find outrageous about Honda service is not the labor rates, but the amount of things that have to be done as regular service. I have found labor rates (~$70USD/hr) to be the same at almost every dealer (Mazda, VW, Jeep, Toyota, Honda) I have been to.
  • Boggse,

    Honda has a reputation, at least at some dealers here in Canada, of performing service that is "dealer recommended" that is not actually a required "manufacturer's waranty service".

    What i mean is that they often add a whole number of unecessary services and this greatly jacks up the price to you.... Check your owners manual for the maufacturers warranty service vs. the dealers. You can demand a price for simply the warranty services. Up to you.....

    By the way, Honda is not the only dealer to do this, but they have built more of a reputation around this than most...
  • maltbmaltb Posts: 3,572
    The 99-00 1.8L was basically a de-stroked version of the 2.0L. Let's face it, in 99 when they went with the FS motor, it was intended moreso for an auto trans. In the 98 and prior years, the Pro ES had the same 1.8L BP engine that the Miata had. This motor was a high revving, low torque engine that was better suited for a manual trans. However, since more vehicles are sold with an auto trans, it only makes sense to make an engine that is better suited towards that.
  • Boris2Boris2 Posts: 177
    MPG is going to differe a lot on individual style of driving. My wife got a 2000 Pro ES. She usually gets around 30 mpg if she drives it most of the time. When I drive it, however, I get around 32 or so. We took a 600 mile trip last summer (Denver to Yellowstone) and averaged about 35 mpg (average speed was in 75-85 mpg range). When we were driving in Yellowstone, averaging 30 mph we got 42 mpg!!!

    As far handling goes, I agree that ES can handle better than Civic, but I think that's primarily due to its tires. ES was the only model that came with v-rated tires in 2000 and dealer told me there is virtually no difference in suspension between ES and other models. They told me I can safely put S-rated tires on it if I want to. It can corner better than anything I drove before, but the price that you have to pay for that is VERY expensive tires with ABSOLUTELY NO warranty on them. I had to change all 4 of the Potenzas that Pro came with at about 12K mi and even though I changed them because of nails, they were not in the best condition at that time and we do NOT drive it hard. Additionally, if any of you drove v-rated anything on the snow, you'd probably agree that they slide better than skates :-)

    Engine: 1.8 was the largest engine available in 2000 and even though it got enough torque to feel safe and confident, I think it can use a little more. IMO it feels underpowered from start but picks up pretty quickly.
  • woops, just realized in my previous post that i said...

    "However, we have traded places in each other's cars too and I cannot beat my sedan if he is driving the Pro5."

    I meant to say that when I am driving his P5, and he is driving my sedan, I still cannot beat the sedan with the 1.8L"

    I would say we are both equal from a skill perspective when it comes to using the manual. Although I have had some amatuer rally experience and he has not. If anything, that just exemplifies that I still cannot catch the 1.8L using his 2.0L Pro 5.
  • boggseboggse Posts: 1,048
    My dad works in a Honda service center. He told me that the valve clearance thing was every scheduled service. He must have meant major. Still, it costs me $17.77 for a regular (non-major) service visit to my Mazda dealer. When I looked at the prices at the Honda dealer, it was upwards of $30.
  • The standard goodyear tires on the regular LX and SE in the 2000 model year handle pretty well too. They are infinitely better in rain than the Poohtenzah's although in snow it's about even. They are also very hard to squeal and can eat up corners.

    I find the Protege in snow pretty scary regardless unless you throw snow tires on her. The suspension is so stiff that she slides far too easily because there isn't much give to the road.

    Anyway, I disagree with you, the Pro is a far superior handling car to the Civic. The old Civic's were close, the new Civic's handle slightly better than a Corolla. Just.....and that's just sad... :)
  • newcar31newcar31 Posts: 3,711
    "heavier" 2.0L? It's the same engine as the 1.8L, if it is heavier, it is by a marginal amount.

    For my style of driving, highway power isn't really important. I drive in the city with heavy traffic. The Protege is better for that. Like I said before, the Protege is also better at handling the extra weight of passengers. In theory, i-VTEC is great, but it still doesn't produce torque in the Civic sedan application. Apparantly, Honda has sided with critics of the high winding nature of Honda engines. Witness the new Civic Si. It doesn't rev like the old one did.
  • vocusvocus Posts: 7,777
    I must drive like a bandit then, because I only used to get 26mpg with my 2001 2.0 ES Protege. Even when I had the 1999 DX, I would only get like 26mpg with it. I drive 90% highway/20 city and drive at 70-90 mph on the highway.

    But the thing is, I just don't get how the VW has alot more power (I mean a LOT more) and gets the same economy on REGULAR gas (the 1.8T recommends premium, but does not require it). Maybe it's because of the turbo. And my engine comes ALIVE (WIDE awake) at 1950rpm. The Protege didn't until 3500 (like everyone said) which was annoying especially with automatic.

    Also, the VW has had some problems (mostly a rattle here and there- 2 to be exact), but the Mazda I had did have problems too. At least the Jetta hasn't left me stranded 60 miles from home on a Saturday morning like the Pro did (and in an underground garage at that!).
  • It's not the same engine as the 1.8L. According to the Mazda dealer it's the same engine that has been used in the 626.

    Sure the Protege can handle the extra weight of passengers but what if you are on the highway with 4 passengers? And when are most people more likely to have passengers in the car? On the highway or in their commute to work?

    Yes, they did reduce the Si's redline, and yes it is slower than the 1.6L with 160HP. However, Car & Driver does not that it delivers linear power throughout the rev range. The Protege does not do this. The power just STOPS after 4500RPM.
  • vocusvocus Posts: 7,777
    On this forum before, Meade had done a whole synapsis on how the 2.0 was just a "bored out" version of the 1.8 engine. So that's not true? I thought it was the one from the 626, but then he said all that stuff about it being the same as the 1.8.
  • newcar31newcar31 Posts: 3,711
    The 1.8L in the 99-00s is essentialy the same engine as the 2.0L. Physically, they are the same size, they look the same, and they are from the same engine family. The 1.8L is a de-stroked version of the 2.0L. The old 1.8Ls were different as Maltb pointed out.

    I have people in my car all the time. The Civic is a dog with people in the car, highway or not. Frankly, I'm sick of talking about this. IMO, the Civic is not the right car for me. It is boring. It is appliance like compared to the Protege ES. I would have bought one if I thought it was better.
  • fowler3fowler3 Posts: 1,919
    Pros and Cons rather than Pros and Civics. LOL!

    If you buy a Honda, any Honda, it's going to cost more to service. They stick you.

    And insurance on a Protegé is higher than on Hondas, I don't know why either. It is considerably higher on my '01 Pro LX 2.0 than it was on the '98 Honda Odyssey, which was worth $3500 more than I paid for the Pro. Figure that one out.

    Service on the Pro is cheaper, initially. I had service on the Pro this morning: Lub, oil & filter change; rotate and balance the tires/wheels - $58.76. Not bad. Rotate and balance alone was $36.95; on a Honda, just rotating the wheels is $60 and $40 for balancing.

    I think the higher insurance is due to the kind of driving the average Protegé owner does in his car, fast and aggressive, sometimes resulting in big claims, which are passed on to the rest of us.

    IMO, the 2.0L AT Pro is the best for merging with traffic on Interstates, much better than the 5-speed '94 Civic I owned. The low-end power of the Pro gets you up to speed when you really need it.

    The other differences: The Pro feels like a bigger car with a stronger body and more able suspension at all speeds. The handling is far superior to the Civic's. The Pro's seats are more comfortable and you sit higher making it easier to get in and out. It feels like a real car, not an entry level econobox. And it looks like a real car; not a road toy meant for cruising Sonic drive-ins.

  • Regardless of whether the engine is a version of the 1.8 or the 626's engine they should've stayed with the 1.8. It had only 5 less HP and it's times are better than the 2.0L. By putting the pwoer down low Mazda has shown that the Protege is a commuter car not a sporty car. But obviously Mazda isn't too concerned about making sports cars because they axed the RX-7 and the MP3 was the "sport" version of the Protege and it only had 140HP. It just doesn't make sense to have the 2.0L engine in a car that they want to market as sporty. The drive is sporty but the engine isn't.

    Whether you consider the Civic an appliance or not obviously Honda has no problem selling their appliances. I have a Protege too, that means that it was the right car at the time for me. However, that doesn't mean that the Civic doesn't have it's own virtues or that I'm blind. It's faster, gets better gas mileage, and has a reliability record that surpasses anything Mazda has built to date.

    And darnit, the fact that my fiance's $3000 1993 Civic can kick my butt just ticks me off.
  • 195/55-15 or 16 performance tires certainly do improve hanling vs. what comes on civics and corollas, but I think the exemplary pro es handling is mainly attributable to 2 other features.

    the pro chassis is a cut down version of the Japanese capella [like 626]. As in the vw series [beetle, golf, jetta] based on the same chassis, the lighter version [beetle] has much superior handling to the heavier version [jetta, esp. the v-6].

    The second reason is the pro rear suspension. the driver can feel the passive rear steering kick in during hard cornering. It's why the car mags raed the mp-3 handling over most sportscars.
  • the_big_hthe_big_h Posts: 1,583
    I remember talking to a Geico insurance agent on the phone one day when I was getting a quote for my Protege. When she gave me the number, I was like 'Why is it so much more expensive than the other one?' she said, 'because it's a sportier car.'

    SPORTIER? you're damn right it is!!!

    btw the other car was a corolla I believe. This was back in 2000.
  • pgillpgill Posts: 84
    Just to add my experience with Protege insurance, when I added my Protege5 couple of months ago to our insurance policy, I was shocked to find out that it's more expensive than my ML320 and slightly cheaper than my X5 4.4i. When I asked the insurance agent, she replied less safety features and younger owners contribute to higher insurance premium even if the car is much cheaper. I'm still in shock.
  • Boris2Boris2 Posts: 177
    Anything is going to be beter than v-rated potenzas' on any surface other than dry pavement. As far as snow handling, I've never seen a car that would perform decent on snow with stock tires (with the exception of some SUVs). We had several new cars in our family: Prizm, Corolla, Camry, Altima... and all of them had to get new tires (snow tires) for the winter.

    I don't have any problems with Pro during winter once I put a set of studded WinterKings on it. If you don't corner too fast and don't overrev the car, it performs quite decent. Our Pro doesn't have ABS and even my wife, who is far not the greatest driver, don't have too many problems driving it on snow days.

    >Anyway, I disagree with you, the Pro is a far superior handling car to the Civic.

    The lates Civic I drove was '96 on 14" tires so it's very hard to compare them. I don't know what the comparison would revial if you put similar tires on Civic. Most likely Pro would still out-handle Civic but I don't know by how much. Don't forget that it got bigger engine as well. The reason I said tires could contribute a lot to Pro's handling is because when we were buying our ES we tried DX as well. My dealer told me there is virtually no difference in suspension. However DX had regular s-rated tires on (I think they were 14" though) and it cornered significantly worse. It had smaller engine though.

    Corolla is not the createst "corner-eater" and never tried to claim that title. I had '98 Prizm for almost 3 years (sold in '01) and when we got our Pro I saw a significant difference. That's considering the fact that I had upgraded tires on my Prizm.
  • protegextwoprotegextwo Posts: 1,265
    Thank you folks for explaining the difference between the beam suspension in the 2003 Toyota Corolla and the independent suspension in the 1999 thu 2002 Mazda Protege's.

    I really enjoyed the give and take on the Civic vs. Protege preferences. With out a doubt this discussion board is one of more informative and entertaining here at Town Hall.


  • maltbmaltb Posts: 3,572
    for $3k I can buy a few cars that will kic your civic's and protege's butt. So what?
  • mazdafunmazdafun Posts: 2,329 least when it comes to our cars. :)

    Can't wait to see the turbo Pro. Doesn't make much sense for them NOT to offer an engine upgrade for the P5, as that body style appeals to a different crowd from the 3-box folks. Someone in Mazda NA must be tinkering with the idea, I think (OK, hope).

    Wish they were bringing the RX-8 to the Cincinnati car show, but it's a smaller event, so likely won't be coming here. Doubt even a 6 will be there. :(
  • newcar31newcar31 Posts: 3,711
    Exactly. I could go out and get an old "5.0L" mustang real cheap. Who needs gas mileage? 16 mpg is good isn't it?
  • SporinSporin Posts: 1,066

    Let me guess... when you were buying that car, you expressed some hesitation at having to use high octane gas... right? The helpful salesman then assured you that despite what the people who designed, built and warranty your engine recommend, you can go ahead and throw the cheap stuff in there... how close am I? :-D

    If you plan to keep that car for more than 3 year, do yourself, and it, a favor and put 91 octane into it like the manufacturer recommends.

    Over time that low octane gas WILL mess things up. You also get fewer MPG and fewer HP with a lower octane. It's been proven on dynos. Use what the manufacturer recommends, never more never less, no matter what the sales guy tells you.
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